2008 Solid Waste Study Committee - Final Report

Final Report_July 2008.doc73 KB








JULY 2008


Background:  The Solid Waste Study Committee was appointed by the Board of Selectpersons in November 2007 to study the town’s present Solid Waste program. Specifically, the Board requested that the Study Committee focus on the following areas:  Barn (including future of), Single Stream Program (expand or not to expand), Safety practices, Costs and efficiencies of the Program, and measuring the community value of the barn. An advertisement was placed in the fall 2007 Bowdoinham News soliciting participation in the Committee. Also, some members were individually contacted for participation based on expertise in engineering, finance, or education. The following seven residents were selected for the Committee:  David Jones, Peter Sullivan, Elaine Diaz, Cathy Curtis, David Reinheimer, Richard Close, and Andrew Fiori. David Berry, Solid Waste Director and Kathy Durgin-Leighton, Town Manager staffed the Committee.


Meetings:  The Committee met a total of 11 times. At the first meeting in November 2007, each committee member was given a binder with copies of documents to help familiarize them with the Program. Documents included: contracts (curbside pickup, barn lease, Mid-Maine Waste Action Corporation), Solid Waste Ordinance, Budget (Revenues and Expenses), and recycling rate reports from the Maine State Planning Office website. Officers were elected: David Jones, Chair and Peter Sullivan, Vice Chair.


The Committee’s first order of business was to schedule a tour of the Barn. The Committee met at 9 am on January 12th, a cold Saturday morning, for a comprehensive tour given by David Berry. The remainder of the meetings included discussions based on reports prepared by David Berry and Kathy Durgin-Leighton, as well as guest presentations by Sam Morris, Senior Planner from the Maine State Planning Office who provides technical assistance and guidance to towns on solid waste management issues, and Karen McNaughton of Pine Tree Waste. After the first two meetings, Committee member, Andrew Fiori resigned for personal reasons.


The following is the culmination of the Committee’s work. Each member was asked to submit written observations, considerations, and recommendations on each focus area. Staff then consolidated the members’ submissions and met a final time with the Committee to review the results.


Barn – Is it prudent to continue leasing the Barn or should we consider purchasing?  Or, should we begin setting money aside in a reserve account to build a new facility in a different location.  Currently, the Town leases a portion of the barn from David Berry at $12,483/year.




a.       The town’s lease for the barn identifies the amount of space in the barn that is leased is 15,768 square feet.  This seems to be a lot of space but the current rental rate is $0.79/SF that is well below the market rate for this type of space. There is a large risk associated with renting the barn, due to long-term availability.

b.       The barn was a former chicken barn. According to the Town’s tax records, the barn was built around 1960 and is 288 ft by 36 ft. with a 67 ft by 24 ft attached greenhouse. The barn exhibits the expected signs of wear and tear from years of active use. No detailed inspection of the barn was performed to determine potential capital expenditures that may be needed, but over time continued maintenance and repairs may become an issue.

c.       The third floor is not well utilized. Perhaps with expanded Single Stream, a smaller facility with fewer employees and less equipment would still suffice for the future needs of the town.

d.       The barn appears solid but should be inspected by a structural engineer to see if it has any discrepancies that would make it unsafe or impractical to upgrade. Repairs are needed to a section of the concrete floor at the back of the building near the loading dock.

e.       There are spaces in the barn, not leased by the Town, that are used for other functions.

f.        A one story facility would be more efficient – moving items to the second and third floors for storage or to load the trucks adds costs.

g.       Parking is inadequate as expressed by both staff and community users of the barn. The opposite side of the Barn could be cleared to accommodate more parking with the personnel vehicles parked at the far end of the building or more space at the present parking side could be cleared with the metal truck parked further down the building.




a.       The Recycling Barn is not conveniently located.  While Route 138 (Post Rd) is a State identified collector road, it is a narrow poorly maintained roadway. (Maintained by the Maine Department of Transportation).  Additionally, the site distances for vehicles exiting the parking lot appear to be minimal.

b.       The life expectancy of the barn will be better determined based upon results of the inspection by a structural engineer.

c.       A replacement facility could potentially be much smaller in size.  Replacing the nearly 16,000 SF of facility space would likely cost more than $1 million.  However, a much smaller facility may be sufficient such as the West Gardiner facility.




a.       Continue leasing the Barn for use for the Town’s recycling efforts until an alternative is available or the barn is no longer available. As with all risks, a barn contingency should be addressed.

b.       The Committee unanimously agreed that the Town should not purchase the Barn.

c.       The Town should hire a structural engineer to inspect and determine the condition and safety of the Barn. A one, five, and ten year maintenance plan should be developed as a result of the inspection.

d.       The Barn lease should specifically identify the repairs and/or maintenance areas that are the town’s responsibility versus the owner’s responsibility. 

e.       Define an emergency “trash/recycling” plan should something happen to the Barn or the owner decide not to continue the lease agreement.

f.        Begin investing funds toward a replacement facility (perhaps a combined facility with the Public Works operations) at a more convenient location


Single Stream – Should the Town continue with Single Stream and if so, should we expand it?




a.       “Single Stream Recycling” as defined by Pine Tree Waste and ECO-Maine includes all the following materials being combined into one bin:  Newspapers, magazines, catalogs, telephone/soft cover books, direct mail/envelopes, paper (all colors, staples/paperclips are okay), paperboard (cereal/shoe boxes) milk/juice cartons, cardboard/brown paper bags, soda/juice/water bottles (glass or plastic), milk jugs, bleach/detergent/shampoo bottles, food containers (cottage cheese/margarine/yogurt), glass bottles/jars (any color), aluminum (pie plates/trays/foil), and metal cans (tin/steel/aluminum)

b.       Pine Tree Waste / FCR Recycling indicated it would cost ~$100,000 per year for them to pick up all Single Stream recycling for the town.

c.       The town’s recycling efforts are currently using “Single Stream” recycling only for mixed recyclables (any clean household containers, of glass or metal.  Any plastic marked #1 through #7.  #2 oil bottles must be completely drained.  Styrofoam containers and packing are not picked up curbside, but may be brought to the recycling barn.) and we pay FCR Recycling (division of Pine Tree Waste) about $25/ton for tipping fees to dispose of this material.  The 2006 data sheets indicate these materials would have amounted to ~22 tons/year.  We do not include all the other items included in the typical “Single Stream” because the town has found it can sell the other materials such that the total cost to the town is less.

d.       An analysis of the costs to handle recycled paper stream (Newspaper, Corrugated Cardboard –OCC, and Mixed Paper – MP) was provided by David Berry for these materials sold over the first nine months of FY07/08:


Materials sold over the first nine months of FY07/08


                                 Weight (tons)                Price/ton                       Total Income

News/Mags               52                                 $76                               $3968

Corrugated OCC        35                                 $120                             $4251

Mixed Paper              46                                 $75                               $3429


Baling and Handling Costs for these materials:




         Baling – no baling as all received in gaylords from residents                       $0

         Storage/shipping - .75 hrs/ton x 52 tons x $13/hr                          $ 507

         Trucking - $120/trip x 8 trips                                                                  $ 960   

                                                                     Total Expense                           $1,467


                                                                     Gross Income                            $3,968


                                                                     Net Income                             $2,501




         Baling – 80% baled by attendant during open hours (no extra hours)         $0

         20% baled during closed hours                                                               $341

         Wire and electricity $7/ton x 35 tons                                                       $245

         Storage & shipping                                                                                $455

                                                                     Total Expense                           $1041


                                                                     Gross Income                            $4251


                                                                     Net Income                             $3,210


Mixed Paper


         Baling – 7 hrs/ton x 46 tons x $13/hr.                                                      $4,186

         Wire and electricity - $7/ton x 46 tons                                                     $   322

         Storage/shipping - .66 hrs. /ton x 46 tons x $13/hr                                    $   395


                                                                     Total Expense                           $4,903


                                                                     Gross Income                            $3,429


                                                                     Net Loss                                 ($1,474)


                                                                                    (Net loss per ton for Mixed Paper: $32/ton)




a.       FCR Recycling offered to do a test case where they will accept the town’s current “Single Stream” as well as the town’s mixed paper (~68 tons/year) at a $0 tipping fee.  This would only be a test to see if this financially worked for both the town and FCR Recycling.

b.       If we didn’t have such a good program already in place, single stream would be quite attractive. Going further into the program is a one-way street and should be approached cautiously.




a.       Confirm and move ahead with the pilot project for “Single Stream” recycling with FCR recycling for mixed recyclables and mixed paper.  If this works for both parties, continue this operation. Both mixed paper and mixed recyclables are handled at a loss when handled “in-house” by the town. A two month pilot project will determine if the net loss to the town is greater when doing in house or sending it through the single stream process.

b.       Continue the current efforts of recycling as efficiently as possible at the least cost.

c.       Should the recycling barn become unavailable to the town, consider combining solid waste collection and single stream recycling into a town-wide contract and expanding the Single Stream to include all the items.  This would potentially eliminate the need for as large a facility and it could be limited to Household Hazardous Waste and Universal Waste, which could likely be consolidated with the Public Works operations.


Safety – Evaluating the operating procedures of the barn.




a.       The Committee visited the Recycling Barn January 12, 2008.  Safety was one of the primary issues the committee was looking at. Generally speaking, the committee was impressed with the cleanliness and order of the barn as well as the attention to safety. No obvious safety issues were identified during this visit.

b.       The Barn is not handicap accessible.

c.       Ice builds up outside the doors from the water dripping off the roof creating a hazard.




a.       Safety Works (a division of the Maine Department of Labor) inspected the recycling Barn on February 7, 2008.  Its February 15, 2008 report identified 12 recommendations.  These varied from labeling circuit breakers and installing light switch covers to floor load capacity and fall protection plans. David Berry reports all the recommendations have been or are in the progress of being addressed.

b.       Solid Waste and Recycling operations are traditionally very labor intensive and are frequently the source of numerous injuries and workers compensation claims which can be very costly to the town.

c.       A deeper parking area might be safer for those unloading materials.

d.       Open extended parking or another access from the opposite side of the Barn.

e.       Certain materials could be better directed to specific unloading areas.




a.       Continue operating with Safety in mind. Watch for ways to eliminate repetitive manual labor tasks by use of machines or technology.

b.       Require/stop vehicles from pulling within four to five feet of the Barn to allow people to walk between the barn and the vehicles. Walking behind vehicles is also dangerous with so many vehicles coming and going.

c.       Participate in safety training annually with particular attention to back injuries, personal protection (sight, hearing, etc) and universal & hazardous waste handling.

d.       Closely monitor injuries and workers compensation cases.

e.       Look at possible ways to decrease the hazards created by the ice build up outside the doors and around the Barn.


Cost Effectiveness and Efficiency




a.   The Committee found that the current program, with a 25% to 30% participation rate,        provides a recycling program with the least cost to the Town. As the cost of the            tickets increased, the amount of tickets sold has decreased. Therefore, cost to the town to Mid-Maine Waste Action Corporation has decreased.

b.   The program promotes and teaches recycling.

c.   Current efforts are dictated by fiscal considerations, not life-value issues.

d.   No firm guidelines exist regarding the town’s long-term recycling objectives.

e.   There are no recycling goals regarding financial or volume. Maintaining a status-quo program will be difficult over time as recycling is dynamic.

f.   Recycling passion based on financial benefits and/or environmental interests.

g.   Operations Breakdown as prepared by David Berry – 8 month period – total payroll $44,900.  


         Baling – Baling mixed paper, corrugated cardboard, and Styrofoam

                     Material for recycling                                                 13%                 $5,837

                     Material for disposal                                                  3%                  $1,347


         Storage/Shipping – Moving finished product to shipping room and loading it for delivery, including loading metal, appliances, and HHW, Moving OBW and mixed Recyclables to the 3rd floor and loading them for delivery.

                     Material for recycling                                                 5%                   $2,245

                     Material for disposal                                                  16%                 $7,184


         HHW/UW – Collection and handling of all household hazardous waste and all universal waste, including packaging for shipment.

                                                                                                         17%                 $7,633


         Attendant – Responsible for oversight and management of all incoming materials –         for recycling or for disposal – collection of disposal fees, record-keeping.

                                                                                                         40%                $17,960


                                 Total Operational Cost for 8 month period:                         $44,900






a.       Dave Berry has taken a personal ownership of the Town’s Solid Waste and Recycling program.  When David decides it is time for him to retire or move on to something else it will have a significant impact upon the program.

b.       Dave has developed and maintains a very functional and viable program.

c.       More needs to be promulgated to the citizens of the town both now and to those who move into the town to let them know what is available and what procedures are in place to help them.

d.       Balance financial and lifestyle considerations regarding recycling.

e.       A one story facility would be more efficient – moving items to the second and third floors for storage or to load the trucks adds costs.





a.       Continue with the program as it currently is being administered. 

b.       Continue looking for opportunities to decrease the costs to the town, while continuing the same levels of service.

c.       Consider instituting a training program for in-house personnel should Dave Berry retire.

d.       Meet with Bowdoin Selectman to see if it would be profitable for Bowdoinham to accept more of Bowdoin’s recycling.

e.       Immediately begin assembling information on SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures), such that others could use them to help operate the facility on a temporary (3-6 months) basis.

f.        Distribute a survey either at town meeting or in the Bowdoinham News to see how the program is received and what might be done to improve it in the eyes of the townspeople in order to increase participation.

g.       Establish a permanent Solid Waste Committee appointed by Select Board.

h.       Meet annually with State Planning Office.

i.         Continue to educate on recycling efforts and benefits with the CommunitySchool.

j.         Develop worksheets to annually assess current and proposed future practices.

k.       Vigorously promote recycling and composting

l.         Develop a mission statement regarding the town’s recycling objectives.

m.     Encourage dumpster users to participate in municipal program. There are currently over 100 known dumpsters in the town (approx.10% of households).



Measuring the “Community Value” of the barn




a.        This is a difficult thing to define or measure.  

b.       If one is talking about the social value, there are any numbers of ways members of the community can socialize with other members of the community.  These include the bean suppers at the Fire Station, visiting or volunteering at the Library or some other function, participating on Town Boards or Committees, attending and participating in Bowdoinham Days, attending the Summer Sunday concerts or Farmers markets.  There are numerous alternative outlets to this appeal of the barn.

c.       There is a “Community Value” to the Barn but that can be transferred to any such facility. The Community Value is in the program and not the structure. Wherever the facility is located, the community will meet to recycle and dispose of solid and hazardous wastes.


Summary:  The Committee unanimously agreed that Bowdoinham’s Solid Waste Program is one of the best in the state as confirmed by the State Planning Office. The success of the Program is largely due to the efforts of its Director, David Berry. While David deserves the accolades of developing such a successful program, there is a concern that the program could not run without David’s participation. Also, the Bowdoinham Program is unique. The wood that is received at the Barn is used in the wood boiler to heat the barn as well as the greenhouse that serves to grow David’s tomato plants for his farm business. Also, the size of the Barn gives the Town advantages for increased storage space. However, building a facility the size of the Barn would be cost prohibitive.


The Committee recommends that David begin developing a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for future use. Also, a training program or internship should be considered.


The Committee recognized that the Town has not established a recycling rate goal nor has it determined how much is too much to spend on the Program. In other words, when does recycling cost too much, or does it? Is it the Town’s goal to increase the recycling rate at any cost? Or, is it the goal of the Town to have a program in place that residents may choose to participate in at the least amount of cost to the Town budget? Are there too many dumpsters in town? Why do some residents choose to have dumpsters when the data suggests that the cost of having a dumpster is greater than participating in the Town’s recycling program. These questions remain unanswered. It is our hope that the Bowdoinham Select Board will appoint a permanent Solid Waste Committee to help answer these questions.




Respectfully submitted to the Bowdoinham Select Board on this day, July 30, 2008.



Members of the Solid Waste Study Committee:



_________________________                                                                                  _________________________

David A. Jones, P.E., Chair                                                                               Cathy Curtis



_________________________                                                                                  _________________________

Peter Sullivan, Vice Chair                                                                                  Elaine Diaz                  



_________________________                                                                                  _________________________

Richard Close                                                                                                   David Reinheimer, P.E.